FORT POLK, La. - Sixty Soldiers from Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 353rd Infantry Regiment, Joint Readiness Training Center Operations Group, recently returned from Fort McCoy, Wisconsin after training members of 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment of the Wisconsin National Guard for their next mission as Guardian Angels for the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade in Afghanistan.
Guardian Angels are those personnel who are part of a security force team that are in the room with an advisor, Capt. Miguel Moyeno, commander, A Co, 3rd Bn, 353rd Inf Reg, said.
"They are trained to protect the advisor and themselves from insider threats," he said. "They are constantly looking at body language, posture, things that the advisor might not notice because he's busy advising. They provide the security inside an engagement to an advisor. The SECFOR are the outer bubble of security, but Guardian Angels are actually in the room with the advisor."
Moyeno said training provided the Wisconsin National Guard unit set them up for a unique role.
"They (2-127th) are the first National Guard unit to support a Security Force Assistance Brigade," Moyeno said.
Moyeno said the 1st SFAB, currently in Afghanistan and due to come back next year, was paired up with an active-duty infantry battalion. The 2nd SFAB is stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and is an active-duty unit.
"We will see the 2-127th in January with the 2nd SFAB JRTC rotation," Moyeno said. "Our instructors and OC/Ts (observer controller/trainers) went to them and probably gave them the best training on this topic that they've ever received."
Moyeno said the cadre from his unit are subject matter experts in Guardian Angel, security force (SECFOR) assistance training and advisor training.
"We don't certify SFAB advisors - that's done at Fort Benning (Georgia)," he said.
"But we do advisor training for those who don't go to the SFAB."
Sgt. 1st Class Jerod Deibert was one of the OC/T who made the trip to train Wisconsin Guardsmen.
He said his team put the Soldiers through 10 scenarios they might run across during their tour in Afghanistan.
"They (scenarios) were all KLEs (key leader engagements)," he said. "We use the Army model of train as you fight. We used realistic scenarios."
Deibert said each scenario had a platoon that consisted of four squads, and the squads rotated among different missions.
"We threw everything at them that they might face," he said.
"We tried to throw as much realism into it as possible."
Deibert said the goal is to have downrange reactions to be second nature for the Soldiers.
"We instructed them on how to set up and place themselves and their advisors," he said. "We taught them how to interact with the local populace, not have an over aggressive posture and to let them know they are there to help and not take over."
Moyeno said the Guardian Angel mission is currently a "hot topic."
"Insider attacks have been on the increase recently, to include an event where General (Scott) Miller (commander, U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan) was in the room when one took place," Moyeno said. "So the Guardian Angels are important.
"In every event that includes an advisor, there is a Guardian Angel present in that room."
First Sgt. Matthew Carter, A Co first sergeant, said he sees using a National Guard unit to provide the SECFOR mission as an advantage.
"Due to the limited training schedules they have - one weekend a month and two weeks annual training - they are very receptive to training we bring," Carter said. "When we give them recommendations, they know we have the experience and we're the professionals and experts, so anytime we have something to say, they are very receptive."
Carter pointed out another advantage of having citizen Soldiers in the Guardian Angel role.
"A lot them have jobs in the civilian sector, such as police officer, which are similar to what they will be doing as Guardian Angels. They know how to look for suspicious activity and can confidently relate with others."
Moyeno said the training his unit provided included use of an interpreter, cross cultural communication, personal recovery, Guardian Angel, human behavior and negotiations.
"Our instructors give them the classes on the science and doctrine, then for three days ran scenarios that are applicable to where they are going, in this case, Afghanistan," he said. "The 2nd SFAB sent advisors to take part in the training, and we had contractors who played the role of local nationals.
"For those three days the National Guard guys were sponges. The soaked up everything we told them."
Moyeno said the bottom line is his unit takes its job to train Guardian Angels seriously.
"Brigadier General (Patrick D.) Frank (JRTC and Fort Polk commanding general) has given us the mission and we are not going to let him down," Moyeno said.
"We've given the Soldiers in the Wisconsin National Guard the training they need to be successful and we'll see how much they've moved forward from now until they come here in January. And when they get here, we're going to test them, and we're not going to hold back."